By Ashlye Elizondo Vanderworp

A Letter to Latino/a Students

To Latino/a students on campus, 

This is a big deal. YOU are a big deal. 

You make up about a fifth of the students on campus. You’re a part of the fastest growing group of students in the U.S. 

And, at the same time, you might not feel like a big deal. You might feel alone. You might not see many others who look like you on campus. You might not meet many others who’ve had the same experiences. 

You may feel like no one gets you. Do they think I’m too much because I’m loud? Because I have a laugh or tone that might disrupt or catch people off guard? Maybe you don’t pronounce every word in class 100% the same way as everyone else. Or maybe you’re in a Spanish class and feel embarrassed that you don’t know any Spanish at all. I pray you know you were created by our Creator and made just the way he wants you to be. The things that make you different are what’s special about you, and God will use those things for his good on campus and beyond. Your passion, your love, the emotion you show towards the issues and people you care about –– all of these are good. Don’t hold back.

As you’re sitting in class, you may look around and feel like you’re not enough. What if all these people expect me to fail? Have faith and hope. You are enough. You are where you are on purpose.  

Maybe you do feel like a big deal. Maybe you’re the first one in your family to step foot onto a college campus. This could make you feel proud, loved, like all your parents can do is tell their friends and family members about you and your goals and dreams –– how you’re making their dreams come true. 

If you’re like me, this could make you feel a lot of pressure. What if I fail? What if I can’t live up to the expectations? I pray you feel freedom. That the world, the hopes and dreams of your parents and their parents, and their parents, aren’t on you. I pray you sense that God’s will for you will happen –– whatever that looks like. The life he has for you is more than you can imagine, regardless of it living up to anyone’s expectations...including your own. 

I remember walking on campus as a student, thinking about this myself. All their lives, my parents worked hard to help make this moment happen for me. From moving us to the suburbs so I could go to a better school, to working overtime to pay for Montessori fees, to helping me fill out my FAFSA. And I’m thankful for them. 

And at the same time, I pray you know that you can’t pay your parents back for what they’ve given you. No matter how much we try to give back, nothing will compare. But that’s not what they want anyway. In most cases, you are their only dream.

I pray you redirect your thoughts. May you appreciate where you are as not just generational provision, but as the Lord’s provision. He brought you all to where you are today. And he’ll continue moving you forward. Feel that freedom. 

Maybe you grew up in church. Maybe, like me, you grew up knowing that you were supposed to believe in God, but devotion to him was a few generations removed. Maybe you grew up with no faith background at all, and you’re the only one in your family pursuing Jesus. 

Whatever your experience, you should know that you’re part of one of the most unreached ethnic groups on college campuses. There’s not many like you in most campus ministries. And maybe, like me, this breaks your heart. 

When I served in ministry at The University of Texas at Austin, all the ministries and churches in the area brought together the statistics of who was involved in their campus communities. Year after year, the Latino/a Christian community continued to be the smallest. There’s more and more of us on campus, yet there are fewer of us involved in campus ministry—less of us intentionally reaching others like us. 

Even in InterVarsity, where we hope to reach every corner of every campus, where we value bringing together people of every ethnicity and culture, only around 1,600 of our 23,000 students are Latino. 

I pray you’re a part of changing that. I pray an unshakeable, burning desire grows in your heart to reach others around you, who look like you, from similar backgrounds as you, with the love and truth of Jesus. 

I pray if you’re not already that you get involved with LaFe. Maybe the Lord will call you, specifically, to start a Bible study for other Latinos. He’ll put people in your path for you to connect with and share the good news with, and he’ll provide others to help and support you. 

We’ll no longer feel forgotten, excluded, or looked down on. Because on campus, and in the Kingdom, we are a big deal. 


Ashlye works as the Managing Editor for InterVarsity's Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. She enjoys deep conversations with friends and adventures with her husband (a Video Producer for InterVarsity) and their corgi, Penny. You can support her ministry here: